April 14, 2024
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April 14, 2024
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Digital Dov Virtual Game Shows Entertain Kids and Adults

Dov Katz is getting calls from schools, shuls, parents and nonprofits all over the world, asking how their group can have a Digital Dov virtual game show on Zoom.

It began as “a happy accident,” said Katz, who lives in Bergenfield and owns Krohma Music and OnKore Band. He was looking forward to his second year providing entertainment for the annual Purim party at Young Israel of New Rochelle, when the coronavirus struck. “They were the first to get hit, and the first party to be cancelled,” said Katz. “I said to them, with everyone stuck in their houses, let me come up with something to do virtually.”

Katz enlisted the help of the most creative person he knew: his daughter Elisheva, a senior at Stern College. Together, they came up with a virtual Purim party. There were games, people running around their houses, dance videos and a costume contest. Katz reached out to people he knew in the music business for videotaped messages. “It was a remote experience done together,” said Katz. “There were 400-500 people watching us for an hour and a half. The community was thankful and we felt grateful.”

And then everyone was in the same boat. “Two days later, the world ended and my phone exploded,” said Katz. Word of the virtual Purim spread around the globe. He has gotten calls from Israel, Canada, Los Angeles, Chicago, Florida, England and South Africa. “They heard about what I did for New Rochelle and wanted to know if I could do it for them.”

Calling himself Digital Dov, Katz has partied in thousands of homes over the last two weeks. Schools have Zoomed him to their students either during or after regular hours. Parents have told him it was the first time they heard their child giggle and laugh in weeks. In a testimonial, Rabbi Jonathan Knapp, head of school at Yavneh Academy, wrote, “Dov organized and led our students in a fantastic, energizing, uplifting and fun game show. He was able to diversify the event to meet all ages. What a positive pick-me-up for everyone during these challenging times.” Katz is awed by how the entire Jewish day school system is coalescing into a structured remote learning environment. As someone who deals with all the groups—administration, faculty, parents and students, he has tremendous admiration for how each is meeting the challenge to keep the learning on track.

Digital Dov has come to the rescue of several bar mitzvah boys who had to face the cancellation of a long-awaited party. The boy comes onto a Zoom meeting, thinking it is a shiur with his rebbi, to find 50 of his friends and relatives on the screen for a virtual bar mitzvah party with trivia, games and dance instruction. The party ends with everyone singing “Happy Birthday” and “Mazel Tov.”

Adult groups are hiring Katz to bring their members together for much-needed socializing. He has several events lined up for shuls and organizations, where Zoomers will play games, open a real bottle of wine in their homes and socialize together virtually.

While many of us are at loose ends, with more time on our hands than we would like, Katz is working 20 hours a day coming up with material for his shows, which have to be customized to the age and make-up of the audience. “We are constantly talking about new content and ideas,” said Katz. “The shows take hours of preparation.” Father and daughter bring to the effort different skill sets. Elisheva, who has a job lined up in accounting after graduation, is the organized, creative thinker. Dad tells the jokes and makes people laugh.

Katz has learned how to transition from a live simcha environment, where a band performs and people listen, to creating an interactive environment where people are involved and not just watching someone else. Mastering the technology has been another learning experience, finding the best ways to be interactive without having lots of people talk, or shout, at once. “It was a little trial and error at first but at this point, we know what works and what doesn’t.”

To get a taste of what he does, go to Katz’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/dov.katz.7), where he posted the video of a show he did for the families of the Jewish music performers he knows. With the entire events industry on hold, Katz wanted to do his part to bring a smile to the faces of the performers who have made our simchas so special and don’t know when they will have the opportunity again. “They always entertain us,” said Katz. “We thought it would be nice to entertain them for once.”

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